Filmed and recorded live on location over two days in April 2021, William Walton’s witty one-act opera The Bear (1967) is set to stream on Opera Holland Park’s (OHP) website on 9-13 November, the west London-based opera company has announced.

Based on the comic play of the same name by Russian playwright Anton Chekov, the story revolves around the reclusive widow Popova, who has given up on life. Locking herself inside her country house, she vows to surrender her happiness in a show of devotion to her late husband. But when angry creditor Smirnov arrives to demand payment for her husband’s debts, a heated argument is turned on its head as he and Popova fall furiously in love, to the astonishment of Popova’s loyal servant, Luka.

The shows, which must be pre-booked via OHP’s website, are streaming at 7.30pm each night between 9 and 13 November, with additional 1pm screenings on 12 and 13 November. Cost for the film is on a ‘pay what you feel’ basis.

This chamber reduction for three singers and five musicians by Jonathan Lyness was filmed at Stone House, a Grade II listed building in south-east London’s Deptford. The production is conducted by John Andrews and directed by John Wilkie, with designs by takis and photography by Simon Wall.

The opera stars mezzo-soprano Clare Presland as Popova, baritone Richard Burkhard as Smirnov and bass-baritone John Savournin as Luka. Music is from members of Opera Holland Park’s resident orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia. Featured in the film are pianist Fran Hills, violinist Ruth Funnell, bassoonist Christopher Rawley, harpist Stephanie Beck and percussionist Glyn Matthews.

To find out more, you can watch a trailer for the production on Opera Holland Park’s YouTube channel.



John Savournin as Luka, Clare Presland as Popova and Richard Burkhard as Smirnov in The Bear for Opera Holland Park (Laima Arlauskaite).